Archive | July, 2010

The Map Quest

25 Jul

A few weeks ago Sarah of  Destination Cycle in Kerrville was telling me about the new waterproof, foldable Hill Country map they put together and are now selling.  Sounded like a good excuse for a ride, and last Wednesday I was able to do just that.

Left Austin at 6:30 a.m. to miss the rush-hour traffic.   Had a butt-pucker episode close to Dripping Springs, where I was suddenly and unexpectedly enveloped by scary-thick fog, but Lizzie safely pulled through.  Yikes!

Stopped at the Hill Country Cupboard  in Johnson City for a migas breakfast.  I always like this restaurant because my priorities are small-town atmosphere, friendly waitresses, and not having to wait a long time to be served.  Truthfully, though, if you’re a foodie, you’ll most likely want to go somewhere else.  

Next stop was one of my favorite local destinations, the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.   In fact, whenever I want a short 150-mile ride on back roads, this is where I usually go.   The 6.5-mile park road runs alongside the Pedernales River (Texan pronunciation Per-den-al-es) and it looks a little different each time I see it, depending on the season.  This week the grass was green with only the toughest hot-weather wildflowers scattered about:  coreopsis, a few buttercups, Mexican hats, purple thistles.  You can usually spot a small herd of about 20 buffalo along the road, and I like to stop to see them whenever I can.   Walked up in time to watch a rambunctious young calf being taught a lesson in boundaries by a grouchy adult, which made me laugh out loud.   This next picture was taken with my cell phone so couldn’t zoom in on them.  

Turn up the volume on this 30-second clip  which looks out towards the Pedernales River and LBJ Ranch.  It shows you one of the reasons why I visit here so often.  Peaceful and relaxing, huh?  Background music is provided by our very own Texas State Bird, the mockingbird, aka American nightingale.  By the way, the mockingbird is the state bird because it’s a fighter for the protection of his home, falling if need be, in its defense, like any true Texan.”

Arrived at Destination Cycle in Kerrville to find a gathering of The Lost Boys, a group of entertaining characters that meet every Wednesday morning.  It’s always best to wear tall boots when you walk in on one of their discussions, if you know what I mean.  Better yet, with these guys, waders are in order!  I’m just sayin’. . . .

Don’t be fooled by their appearance, though, because these guys are the real deal.  Most of them have done and continue to do Iron Butt SaddleSores and BunBurners.  In fact, the senior member, 84-year-old Leroy, who still pilots a plane, wasn’t there because he’s riding the Four Corners —  which means the four corners of the United States!  Leroy raced cars back in the late forties and fifties and was A. J. Foyt’s mentor.  Not a tall tale.  I’ve seen the original photos and newspaper clippings that prove it!  I could go on and on about these amazing men.

Managed to tear myself away from the storytelling to check out the new map, which is great!  It lays out the five best rides in the Hill Country and every other road you’ll want to know.  By the way, The Lost Boys had a lot to do with compiling these rides.  Sightseeing four-wheeled cagers and bicycle riders will also find it invaluable.   It already holds a permanent place in the saddlebag.

Stayed on the back roads for most the ride home, and here is a real quick look  at the road between Kerrville and Comfort.   Just so you’ll know, the video quality went way down when it was loaded onto YouTube, and I’m in the process of finding out why.   Auntie Biketrash will get her nephew, a videographer in Seattle, to work on it!

Maybe you need a map quest of your own?  Check it out at the Hill Country Headquarters, Destination Cycle.  Besides, the peach stands between Stonewall and Fredericksburg are all open right now!   Mmmmmmm. . . .

Peace on the Road!

BT

P.S.  NPT Wrap-Up is hot off the press!  You’ll find it in the right sidebar.

The Best Kept Secret. . . .

16 Jul

Okay.  So before all you big-bike purists laugh, hear me out.  

Scooters are the best kept two-wheeled secret there is, hands down!  They’re perfect for running errands around town:  fun, simple, lightweight, a cinch to park, and approachable.  Lots of people smile and wave as you pass by and talk to you at a stoplight.  That sure doesn’t happen on a big, bad motorcycle.

Last Tuesday my friend Kami and I unleashed our little scooters (Vespa LXV 150 and Vino 125) to pre-ride a 70-mile course I’d outlined several months back for an Austin Scooter Club ride.   We met at Home Depot, started fairly early to beat the heat, and quickly got out of the city.  

This is why it’s good to always (ALWAYS!!!) pre-ride a course before leading a group ride.   We came across two road closures and had to stop for a little Garmin/iPhone route creativity.

Our first planned stop was the New Sweden Evangelical Lutheran Church, which can be seen from miles away out here.  The next picture shows Puddin’ and Jane bravely posing under an ominous sky. 

With all the rain we’ve had lately, the cotton and sorghum fields were green, and the ditches were full of yellow Black-Eyed Susans and purple verbenas.  Here is a short 40-second film clip capturing some of the action.  You can see we’re in the flat blackland prairie east of Austin, as opposed to the Hill Country to the west. 

Next stop was the Huntington Sculpture Foundation in the small town of Coupland.  The sculpture garden is as amazing as it is unique, admission is free, open 365 days a year, and everyone is welcome to roam around for as long as they want.  The friendly artist is on site most of the time and is more than happy to answer questions.  

It was difficult to choose only a few pictures, but you can see plenty more photos on the foundation website.

While you’re at it, right around the corner is historic Coupland Dance Hall, alleged to be the eatinest, drinkinest, dancinest place in Texas! 

All that Coupland culture worked up an appetite, so we headed over to Elgin to famous Meyers Elgin Smokehouse for some ‘cue.  Here’s the beef combo plate.  No room for banana pudding after that! 

With full bellies, we ran smack dab into a strong south headwind for the return trip to Austin, and even though our heroic little scooters struggled with all their might, we had to ride the shoulder a few times to let some cars pass — but neither one of us ever stopped smiling.  It’s all part of the scooterrific fun! 

Peace on the Road!

BT

P.S.  By the way, if any of you bad-ass tough guys want to take Jane out for a  spin, I promise not to tell your friends.  Your secret’s safe with me!

Let’s Roll. . . .

4 Jul

It’s a great honor to kick off BiketrashHoliday.com with an unusual and special Patriot Guard ride on the 4th of July! 

 

In general, the Patriot Guard is a nationwide group of motorcyclists who attend the funerals of veterans when invited by their families.  We provide motorcycle escorts and silently stand in a flag line to show our respect for the soldier and family, and the missions are quiet and somber.  Read about the PGR mission statement.

Today’s joyful mission was to provide a motorcycle escort and form a flag line for SPC Adam Cody Huckstep, who returned home today on leave from Iraq, where he’s been deployed since October of 2009.  The ride staged at a fire station, which was also hosting a pancake-breakfast fundraiser.   How 4th of July is that?  Too bad for this pancake freak the fundraiser was such a success that a lot of us didn’t get in!

I missed being in the escort because of last-second logistical changes and there were so many enthusiastic folks from the fundraiser who wanted to be a part of the flag line, that I was able to step back, take some pics, and appreciate the diverse group of people that had come together to honor this soldier.  No divisive political rhetoric, but a unified gathering of grateful Americans.  Sweet! 

Photos of one section of the flag line and some Patriot Guard bikes.

 

This woman insisted on showing off her flag.

The Military Moms of Texas were out in full force.  Among other things, these dedicated moms pack care packages each week to send to the troops.   In fact, in his remarks, Specialist Huckstep talked about how much the troops appreciate the care packages.  

While waiting for our unsung hero to arrive, I contemplated what it all means and was mindful of Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, “And if there be war, help me to remember to ask and answer, ‘Am I worth dying for?'”   No quick answer for a thoughtful person.  May I often and honestly examine my reply.

This 30-second video clip shows the procession and SPC Huckstep. 

It was difficult getting close enough for a picture because of all the friends and family.

No, this wasn’t an entertaining ride adventure, but it touched me deeply and I can’t think of a better way to have spent our nation’s Independence Day.  Godspeed, Specialist Huckstep!

Peace on the Road!

BT

P.S.  Auntie Biketrash says, Always thank a vet! 

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